‘It’s second nature’: Mass. firefighters hailed as heroes for live-saving efforts aboard flight to Chicago

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — North Attleboro Fire Chief Chris Coleman and six other firefighters were on a flight to Chicago last week when they noticed something was amiss.

“We heard someone say, ‘are you OK?'” Coleman recalled. “There was no pulse on this passenger.”

Without a second thought, that’s when Coleman and the others sprang into action.

“Our training kicked in,” North Attleboro Fire Captain George McKinnon said. “I mean, we do this stuff all over the place in all different kinds of settings … I never thought I would be doing it in an airplane up above, but everybody just worked … it’s second nature.”

Coleman said once they located the passenger, who appeared to be having a seizure, McKinnon immediately began performing CPR.

“Shortly thereafter, the patient had some purposeful movements,” Coleman recalled. “We started an IV and gave him some fluids and he remained conscious for the rest of the flight.”

The firefighters were traveling to Colorado Springs to visit the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial which honors those who have died, including two from North Attleboro.

Coleman said he’s thankful they were in the right place at the right time.

“A firefighter is never off duty and this proves it,” Coleman said. “It was only by the grace of God we were sitting in front of him. Whether it’s 3,000 feet in the air or on the sidewalk in North Attleboro, it’s our job.”

Once the plane landed in Chicago, the man was transported to the hospital. At last check, Coleman said he’s doing OK.

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